Fire lights up downtown Sao Paulo in 26-storey building blaze

Fire lights up downtown Sao Paulo in 26-storey building blaze

More than 150 firefighters are battling the blaze, which caused the building to crumble around 2:30 local time (5:30 GMT).

The blaze is now under control, the spokesman added.

At least one person was reportedly killed.

"I was sleeping, I woke up my husband shouting 'fire, fire, fire.'" I took my son and left, I could not save his documents, I could save only mine", a woman named Crivalda said to a TV reporter at the scene.

Footage of the building collapsing has been shared online, showing huge flames and billowing black smoke.

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Firefighter Lieutenant Andre Elias told Brazilian news channel Globo TV that emergency personnel expected to find victims, but were unsure exactly how many to expect. Firefighters set up a perimeter and worked to evacuate people.

Search and rescue operations could take days.

The fire and collapse are sure to put a spotlight on residences in Sao Paulo, South America's largest city. Then squatters moved in; an Associated Press investigation past year found about 350 families living there. Many such dwellings are run like regular apartment buildings, with doormen and residents paying monthly fees. Local media on Tuesday reported that only around 50 were now living there. "Others are less established and more precarious". Firefighters continued trying to fully extinguish the flames amid the debris of concrete chunks and twisted metal pipes.

City authorities had been in negotiation with the group to vacate the building since February, Sao Paulo City Hall said.

Doria argued downtown Sao Paulo should showcase the city, the engine of Brazil's economy and one of the hemisphere's most important financial centres. Fair-housing activists had criticised his efforts saying he should focus on creating affordable housing to the tens of thousands who need it.

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